Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cissy Cavalcade

Three 1950s Cissy dolls
Even though Saturday was a bust as far as working, we had a great day. We had to go to Gastonia, about an hour away, so our teen could get extra credit in English by watching a performance of Romeo and Juliet. While we were there we stopped at Mary Jo's, the best fabric store on the planet, as well as many other stores not available here. Then we tried a new restaurant, Long Creek Fish Fry in Dallas, NC. Cars lining the highway and a standing-room only waiting area attest to the popularity of this eatery, and it didn't disappoint. Flounder, the local specialty, was fantastic there, as was the perch and the oysters.
The morning broke dark and cold and rainy, perfect for sleeping in, which I did. I awoke refreshed to start work on my parade of vintage Cissy dolls and finished the first one. Of course, this doll wasn't the work of a day. I actually started with the clothing, which I acquired last year. I believe this is #2021, the aqua satin theater dress and coat. These needed minor repairs. The dress retains the flowers on the bodice, but pinholes at the waist and on the skirt hint there were once more floral ornaments. I dipped a pin in Fray Check and dabbed it on the tiny holes to keep them from enlarging. One larger hole had to be sewn shut. Luckily, I was able to hide the repair in a pleat in the dress skirt.
I've never seen this coat with its organdy ruffled sleeve trim intact before, so even though it was fraying I didn't remove it. I sewed the loose threads down the best I could and repeated my Fray Check treatment to keep the fraying from worsening.
I replaced the elastic in the waist of the satin panties and slip. The panties also needed several repairs to small holes here and there. I gave Cissy a vintage bra, which I do not believe was Madame Alexander, but is from the same period. I took nylons from a 1960s Jacqueline face Scarlett doll. These had been stained green on the feet from the shoes the doll wore, so I shortened them. Unfortunately, after that work I found they've lost all their stretch and are very loose on Cissy's legs. I made some garters to hold them up but it didn't work well, so I ended up removing them. I will just send them along with the doll to see if the new owner wants to try to make them work. Then I made new silver sparkle shoes from vintage bases and elastic.
Searching in my stash, I found beautiful new earrings to match Cissy's dress. Then I made a bandeau hat from pink satin and white feathers with vintage rhinestone trim. I gave Cissy a vintage beaded silk purse and turquoise gloves to carry. I think these were both made by Madame Alexander for Cissy. Then I found a vintage "pearl" necklace and turquoise watch for her.

Cissy herself was most likely #2141 from 1957, based on the outfit she wore when she arrived. This is a navy taffeta dress with ruffled tulle sleeves and a ruffled white organdy shoulder cape. I would have left her in her original clothes, but her blond hair and turquoise eyes looked so good with the aqua dress, and I felt like the navy dress would set off a different Cissy's red hair so beautifully, I decided to switch outfits.

Cissy had her hair styled nearly to death by her young owner. It had lots of breakage and hair loss. I cleaned it and gave it a leave-in conditioner treatment using fabric softener. Then I set it on tiny perm rods and poured hot, almost boiling water on the rods to set the curl. Cissy's saran wigs are designed to lock into place with the thermal treatment, but make sure not to get the water into the doll's eyes when you pour it over the hair. Let the hair dry for at least 24 hours, remove the rods, and style the hair. I looked at Pinterest and found the doll in mint condition so I could see how her hair looked when she was new. Then I sewed it into place as it would have been originally styled and pinned the curls up in back. You can still see the wig cap through some thin areas, but it's the same color as the hair so it's not too noticeable.
Cissy has some pretty wide hips splits. These were worse than usual, and needed epoxy and painting. Luckily they are mostly confined to the upper hip and hidden inside the socket. One repair is visible when the doll is nude and standing, but the others can only be seen when the doll is sitting, nude, with her hips extended from the sockets, and most people don't display their dolls in that manner!

Other than epoxy repairs, Cissy needed a partial lash replacement. You can see the new lashes are a slightly darker black than the originals if you look closely in very bright light, but otherwise it's not noticeable. Then Cissy needed a little blush on one hand, and she was all ready to dress.
Now I am stoked to move on to my other Cissys. I have a gorgeous Titian haired Cissy who needed nothing besides cleaning and a tiny epoxy repair to the inside of one knee. This is the Cissy I will dress in the navy taffeta. Then I have a Cissy wearing an elaborate wig adorned with red roses. She has had some repair in the past and still needs some work. I plan to dress her in a green velvet evening gown.

A strange thing about restoring Cissy dolls is the attention collectors pay to the eyebrows. Cissy's eyebrows were handpainted, so each doll's are slightly different, but I have often had someone tell me the eyebrows aren't correct. I took photos of all three of these, each with her original brows, to show how the eyebrows are not the same on any. I just thought I would point this out, since it seems to be an area of particular concern. They vary in color, weight, placement, and shape on every Cissy I've ever seen. This is important to note, because the eyebrows are usually the most prone to rub off from play and often have to be re-painted. Whenever I have to repaint them I try to capture the Cissy "look", but it's hard since there's no certain way to paint them.

You can find my theater Cissy in my store right now, and I hope to have the others listed soon, so please check:



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